How to Self-Study For CFA Level 1 

Preparing for the CFA Level 1 Exam can be overwhelming, but don’t worry. It’s possible to achieve your goal with the right mindset, patience, and practice. You can surely succeed by creating a well-organized self-study plan and staying determined.

This guide will provide practical steps and strategies to help you stay on track and triumph in the CFA Level 1 Exam. 

Understanding CFA Level 1 

CFA Level 1

CFA ( Chartered Financial Analyst ) Level 1 Exam is the fundamental step of the three-level course of CFA, which aims to enhance the global financial management profession and investment management. CFA is a globally recognized qualification that is based on finance and investments.

Best Ways to Self-Study For the CFA Level 1 Exam 

1) Start Early

There’s no time to waste, and starting early is the best thing to do, as cracking this exam requires practice and a lot of practice. It is advisable to begin at least six months before the exam.

Many candidates find it helpful to complement the CFA curriculum with study notes from reputable providers like Kaplan Schweser or Wiley. These notes condense and explain complex topics.

2) Create A Plan

Self-Study for CFA Level 1

Having a proper study plan is crucial as it saves you time. The study plan should be made so that each topic is quickly registered in your memory without forgetting the previous ones.  When you feel overloaded, put 30-minute or 1-hour breaks into your study sessions. You can also join a preparation course as it helps you stay motivated and updated with the essential topics.

Divide the curriculum into manageable sections based on complexity and familiarity with the topic. Additionally, plan for regular review sessions to reinforce understanding of previously studied material. To determine progress, schedule practice exams throughout the study period to become familiar with the exam format and gauge progress.

3) Focus on the CFA Level I Exam Topic Weights and Curriculum 

A solid understanding of the weight of each topic in the curriculum is a must. The curriculum is updated every exam cycle, and all three exam levels focus on the same core topic areas. Exam weights vary by level and can change slightly from year to year, so it is good to be clear about the weights for your exam.

The curriculum for Level I of the CFA exam covers ten topics, each of which is weighted.

  •  Ethical and Professional Standards: 15-20%
  • Quantitative methods: 8–12%
  • Economics: 8–12%
  •  Financial statement analysis: 13–17%
  •  Corporate issuers: 8–12%
  • Equity investments: 10–12%
  •  Fixed income: 10–12%
  •  Derivatives: 5–8%
  • Alternative investments: 5–8%
  •  Portfolio management and Wealth planning: 5–8%

Although the weights are variable, you can see that the one with the most weight is ethics, financial statement analysis, equity investments, and fixed income. You need to make sure that you study these topics well. 

Gaining knowledge is one thing, but applying it practically during the exam is another, so practicing as much as possible is crucial. The exam has  

4) Practice a Lot!

Practice is the cornerstone of effective learning. As you study, regularly test your knowledge and application of concepts through practice questions and quizzes. It’s a great idea to schedule some study sessions to practice problems related to your learned topics. Consider joining online forums or study groups for CFA where you can work with other candidates to discuss and solve practice questions. As you practice more, you’ll start to feel more comfortable and confident when you encounter the questions that will appear on the exam.

5) Keep On Revising

Revising is not a one-time event; it’s an ongoing process throughout your study period. Allocate time in your study plan for regular revision sessions. Review previously studied material to reinforce understanding and commit critical concepts to memory. Create summary notes or flashcards for quick thinking, and periodically revisit these as you progress through your studies. Consistent revision ensures you retain what you’ve learned and are well-prepared for the exam.

6) Be Consistent

To succeed in self-study, maintaining consistency is essential. Stick to your study schedule even when faced with distractions or challenging topics. Camming at the last minute is not advisable as it does not help retain information effectively. By following a daily or weekly study routine, you can maintain a steady pace, reduce stress, and cover all the necessary material. Consistency is the key to building a solid foundation of knowledge and skills required to excel in the CFA Level 1 exam.

7) Find a Professional to Help You!

Last but not least, find someone who can help you prepare for the CFA exam from scratch. A professional has all the answers to your doubts with a strategy you can follow. With their expertise and knowledge, you can ensure that your preparation goes in the right direction.


To sum it up, passing the CFA Level 1 exam alone can be challenging. But with dedication, good time management, consistency, a solid study plan, and lots of practice, you can crush it! You should be proud of yourself for taking on this challenge and working hard to become a Chartered Financial Analyst.

Try to check out Positive Alpha if you’re feeling overwhelmed. They’re a helpful resource providing personalized guidance and a top-notch learning experience tailored to your CFA exam prep. Whether you go with them or not, remember that success in this field comes from your hard work and unwavering commitment. Keep pushing yourself, and you’ll get there!

Also Check: what is CA vs CFA debate understand in brief


  •   How long does it take to prepare for the CFA Level 1 exam? 

On average, successful Level I candidates spend more than 300 hours preparing for the exam, approximately in 6 or 7 months. 

  • Can I pass the CFA Level 1 exam by self-studying? 

Passing the CFA Level 1 exam by self-studying is possible if you have the right mindset, consistency and determination. You must practice daily, follow your study plan, and revise daily. Many successful level 1 candidates have cleared the exam by self-studying, so it is entirely possible. 

  • What are the areas that the CFA Level 1 exam includes? 

These are the areas that the CFA-level exam cove

  1. Ethical and professional standards 
  2. Quantitative methods 
  3. Portfolio management and wealth planning 
  4. Financial reporting and analysis 
  5. Corporate finance 
  6. Fixed income 
  7. Equity investments 
  8. Derivative investments 
  9. Alternative investments 
  10. Economics
  • What is the format of the CFA Level 1 Exam? 

The exam format is computer-based, with 180 multiple-choice questions. There are two 2-hour and 15-minute session times.

  • How is the CFA Level 1 Exam graded? 

Machines and charterholders do CFA exam grading. CFA Institute then uses a methodology to determine a minimum passing score for each exam.

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→ Yes , Jobs as a Research Analyst/ Derivatives Analyst / P&L Analyst are suitable. Further, it depends on undergrad + other relevant skills such as Financial Modelling.

→ CFA L2 is often considered to the toughest hurdle of the CFA program. It digs deep into every concept studied at L1, exposing any weaknesses or loopholes in a specific topic. At Positive Alpha, we ensure a quality foundation at CFA L1 for CFA L2 & L3.

→ We would provide a session on basic accounting (optional session), which would help the engineers and non-commerce background students to grasp the basics of accounting.

→ No, there is no sectional cutoff or negative marking. Only total marks are evaluated.